Here are the Top 20 Happiest Countries in the World

The numbers are in for the World Happiness Report 2017

According to the newest edition of the Better Life Index released on International Day of Happiness which is actually the real day the Norwegians and the Swiss have the highest life satisfaction in the world. Founded in 2012 by the United Nations, the day is dedicated to recognizing the importance of global happiness. In support of happiness, in 2015 the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.

Which brings us to the World Happiness Report, which has been released annually since 2012. Published in support of the International Day of Happiness, the aim of this report is to create a tool that can be used in forming positive public policy.

The report is based on six factors: GDP per capita; healthy 
years of life expectancy, social support, trust in government and
 business, perceived freedom to make life
 decisions and generosity. The data was collected from surveys of people and how they evaluate their lives on a scale running from 0 to 10 in 156 countries around the world.

Last year’s number one was Denmark but has slipped into second while Norway has jumped up three places into
 first position.The United States went from number 13 last year to 14 this year.

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1. Norway (7.537)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.6 (tied — the highest)
> Disposable income: $33,393 (4th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.8 (11th highest)

Norway is one many Nordic countries where residents report some of the best work-life balance in the world. Just over 3% of working Norwegians work 50 or more hours a week, a much smaller share than the 13% average for all OECD nations. With an average of 15.6 hours a day devoted to leisure and personal care, Norwegians may have more spare time to dedicate to exercise and other healthful activities. An estimated 76% of Norwegians are in good health or better, one of the largest shares among the countries considered.

A high level of overall life satisfaction may also be due to the strong sense of safety that many Norwegians feel within their own community. Nearly nine in 10 residents report feeling safe walking alone at night, the highest share of any OECD country. With an average life satisfaction score of 7.6 overall, Norway is tied with Switzerland as the happiest country worldwide.

2. Denmark (7.522)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.5 (tied — 3rd highest)
> Disposable income: $26,945 (16th highest)
> Life expectancy: 80.4 (24th highest)

Close personal relationships are one of the most important factors in personal happiness, and most people in Denmark have strong support networks. Some 96% of Danes responded positively when asked if they had a friend or family member who would help if they were in trouble, the second highest share among the 38 nations reviewed after only New Zealand.

The Danish people are also feel relatively safe in their broader community. Of Danes aged 15 and older, 85.2% report feeling safe when walking alone at night, a higher share than in all but three OECD countries. The Danes’ confidence in their own safety is supported by the scarcity of violent crime. There are only 0.3 homicides in the country for every 100,000 Danes annually, fewer than in every country surveyed with the exception of the U.K. and Luxembourg.

3. Iceland (7.504)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.5 (tied — 3rd highest)
> Disposable income: $27,918 (13th highest)
> Life expectancy: 82.1 (7th highest)

While Iceland was one of the countries hit hardest by the 2008 financial crisis, its economy has grown substantially unemployment has improved in recent years. According to the International Monetary Fund, just 3.4% of the country’s workforce is unemployed, the second lowest rate of any OECD nation. Also, the nation’s GDP per capita of $57,889 is the fifth highest of all countries reviewed. Iceland’s economic comeback was likely aided by the country’s well-educated workforce. The average Icelandic resident spends nearly 20 years in school — tied with Denmark as the second most of any OECD country.

In addition, Iceland ranks highly in social network strength. Roughly 96% of residents report having friends or family they can count on in times of trouble, far more than the 88% OECD average.

4. Switzerland (7.494)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.6 (tied — the highest)
> Disposable income: $35,952 (3rd highest)
> Life expectancy: 82.9 (3rd highest)

Switzerland is tied with Norway as the happiest country in the world. Widespread employment opportunities and financial prosperity largely explain the high life satisfaction in the Central European country. Some 80% of the country’s working age population are employed, the second highest share of all countries surveyed. Also, Switzerland is the only country other than the United States among OECD nations to report a six-figure household financial net worth.

Health and relative safety also contribute to life satisfaction among the Swiss population. At 82.9 years, life expectancy in Switzerland is higher than in all but two other countries considered. Additionally, 87.4% of people in Switzerland feel safe walking alone at night, a larger share than any other country considered with the exception of Norway.

5. Finland (7.469)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied — 5th highest)
> Disposable income: $28,238 (12th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.1 (18th highest)

Like every other Nordic country, Finland ranks as one of the happiest in the world. The nation’s high quality of life is strengthened by its relatively safe communities. Some 86% of people living in Finland feel safe walking alone at night, in stark contrast to the comparable 68% average among OECD countries. Perceptions of safety are well founded in Finland. There are 1.5 murders a year for every 100,000 residents in Finland, well below the 4.1 per 100,000 people average homicide rate in the OECD.

Education can be critical to the foundation of individual well-being as well as broader social well-being. The average Finnish resident spends 19.7 years in school after the age of five, more time than residents of any other country considered.


6. Netherlands (7.377)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.3 (tied — 8th highest)
> Disposable income: $27,759 (14th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.4 (14th highest)

According the OECD’s Better Life Index, the Dutch have nearly the highest overall life satisfaction in the world. People in the Netherlands benefit from a healthy work-life balance and relative financial security. Less than 1% of the country’s labor force works 50 or more hours a week — well below the 13% OECD average, and second-lowest among the 38 nations reviewed. Because jobs in the country demand less time, people working full-time have an average of 15.9 hours of downtime a day, nearly the most of any country surveyed.

Financial security also appears to be an important component for overall life satisfaction — and the Netherlands is one of the wealthiest of the 38 countries considered. The average Dutch household owns the equivalent of $71,251 in net financial assets, more than the average in all but half a dozen other countries surveyed.

 

7. Canada (7.316)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied — 5th highest)
> Disposable income: $30,474 (8th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.5 (13th highest)

Having a healthy support network of friends and family to rely on in times of crisis is one of the strongest indicators of life satisfaction. Only 6% of Canadians do not have such a support network, one of the lowest shares among the 38 nations reviewed. In addition to being able to rely on their social network, Canadians tend to trust their broader community as well. An estimated 82% of Canadians feel safe walking alone at night, much greater than the 68% share of residents of OECD countries.


8. New Zealand (7.314)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied — 5th highest)
> Disposable income: $23,213 (19th highest)
> Life expectancy: 81.4 (14th highest)

Good health is an important contributor to overall happiness. Roughly nine in 10 New Zealand residents report being in good health or better, more than any other country reviewed. New Zealanders also benefit from a particularly strong sense of community, which has been shown to be valuable in ensuring good mental health. When asked whether they had friends or relatives they could count on in times of need, 99% of respondents said they do — by far the largest share of any country surveyed by the OECD.

New Zealand is also one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The average household owns $81,271 in net financial assets, more than in all but a handful of countries. New Zealand levies some of the highest income taxes, however, and the nation’s disposable income per capita after taxes ranks in the middle of the 35 OECD member nations.

9. Australia (7.284)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.3 (tied — 8th highest)
> Disposable income: $33,138 (5th highest)
> Life expectancy: 82.2 (6th highest)

Life satisfaction in Australia is bolstered in large part by close personal relationships and relative financial security. Some 95% of Australians say that they have a friend or relative they can count on if they are in trouble. In contrast, only 90% of Americans and an average of 88% of residents in OECD countries surveyed can say the same thing. Additionally, the average Australian household has $33,138 in disposable income, about $4,000 more than the average OECD household.

Australians also benefit from relatively little harmful pollution. The Australian government has implemented policies to reduce emissions to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020, and Australia currently has some of the cleanest air of any country surveyed.


10. Sweden (7.284)

> Life satisfaction score: 7.3 (tied — 8th highest)
> Disposable income: $28,859 (10th highest)
> Life expectancy: 82.0 (9th highest)

Like those in every Nordic country, Sweden’s residents report some of the highest levels of life satisfaction among OECD nations. Sweden’s healthy work-life balance may help explain the country’s high degree of reported happiness. Sweden is considered to have some of the most generous parental leave and childcare policies in the world, and it recently concluded a two-year experiment in the city of Gothenburg testing the feasibility of a six-hour workday. Just 1.1% of Swedes work more than 50 hours a week, nearly the smallest share of any country surveyed by the OECD.


11. Israel (7.213)
12. Costa Rica (7.079)
13. Austria (7.006)
14. United States (6.993)
15. Ireland (6.977)
16. Germany (6.951)
17. Belgium (6.891)
18. Luxembourg (6.863)
19. United Kingdom (6.714)
20. Chile (6.652)

 

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